Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Yogurt Cheesecake with Fresh Raspberries

Light and fluffy, sweet n tangy, each creamy bite that just melts into your mouth, mmmm......tastes so fabulous that it absolutely sweeps you off your feet!!  If I close my eyes right now, that is what comes to my mind when I think of a perfect cheesecake. This cheesecake comes pretty close to my picture of a perfect cheesecake. 
And the best part is you can go right ahead and indulge your sweet tooth without feeling too guilty as sour cream has been substituted by greek yogurt making it comparatively lighter than the classic cheesecake.
Even after being 3 months here in U.S, it is still quite an overwhelming experience for me to go grocery shopping. A visit to any supermarket. even to pick up the most basic item easily means an hour or two down the lane. Even now I tend to get lost trying to make my way through the confusing maze of innumerable rows and counters full of ingredients, trying hard to make up my mind what to pick up as the choices present before you are so vast and so confusing to someone like me who is not familiar with the American brands.
 On one of numerous visits to the store I picked up a tub of Greek yogurt only to realize much later when after 2-3 days I took out the yogurt to use for marinating chicken that it was actually vanilla flavored sweet yogurt. I had somehow missed reading the small print on the carton which said vanilla flavored and now I did not know what to do with it as no one was willing to eat it. 
Not wanting to waste the big carton of yogurt I thought of making several things with it like a smoothie, frozen yogurt or maybe just mix it with fresh fruits. I wasn't sure if the kids would be too excited about the smoothie or the mixed fruit yogurt and the frozen yogurt just seemed too much work (maybe I will save that for summers). Searching the net for some ideas, I came upon Betty Crocker's recipe of Frozen Yogurt Cheesecake which sounded wonderful and just seemed perfect for what I had in mind. As it is I had been wanting to try out a cheesecake for a long time. 
Betty Crocker's recipes also called for Philadelphia Cream cheese which fortunately I had lying in my fridge. And this I feel brought out the real taste in the cheesecake. Unfortunately in India, Philadelphia cream cheese is available only in gourmet grocery stores and that too at exorbitant prices. Imagine one 8 oz. package costing Rs 450 - that is a little more than $7. So even though I had always had making a cheesecake on my wish list but just that I did not want to spend that much on trying out a cheesecake ( o make one cheesecake I would require 3 8 oz packages -that would add up to a little more than $20- a little too much don't you think?)
I tweaked the original recipe a little. I reduced the cream cheese  and increased the quantity of yogurt (after all I was looking for a way to finish off my yogurt), mixed in all the ingredients according to the instructions given in the recipe, finally put the cheesecake in the oven to bake and crossed my fingers praying that it would work. 
The result was amazing. I had a super-smooth, creamy cheesecake just what I had always dreamt of making. And I could not believe how simple it was to make it!!
I promise you one bite of this luscious cheesecake and the memories of its sweet taste are going to linger on your mind for long time.
For the crust:
11/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons butter melted
For the filling:
2 packages (8 ounce each) cream cheese softened 
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups vanilla yogurt (or use 2 cups plain yogurt with 2 tsp vanilla extract)
21/2 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 cup fresh raspberries or any other fruit of your choice like strawberries, grapes, peaches.cherries, blueberries whatever your heart desires.
Icing sugar for sprinkling
Heat oven to 375 F (190 C)
Spray 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
To make the crust you can either buy graham cracker crumbs or you can make your own by crushing up whole graham crackers. Approximately 10 graham crackers will yield 11/2 cups of crumbs when crushed.To crush the crackers place them in a ziplock bag and seal it. Crush the crackers by using a rolling pin to crush it finely.
Once the crackers are finely crushed into fine crumbs place them in a bowl. Melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds.
Add the butter to the crushed crumbs and mix well.
Press the crumbs into the base of the springform and smooth evenly with a spoon.
Bake in the oven for 7 minutes at 375 F.
Turn down the oven to 300 F (150 C)
In a medium bowl beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
Add sugar and eggs;beat on medium speed till smooth.
Beat in the yogurt and flour till well blended. 
Pour the mixture into the springform pan over the graham cracker crumbs.
Place cheesecake in oven with pan of water on oven rack below it (to prevent cracking). 
Bake 1 hour 25 minutes or until center is set. The cake will still be quite jiggly with lightly brown edges when it is done.
Leave it inside the warm oven for 20 minutes leaving the oven door a little open.

When you remove it from the waterbath, run a thin bladed knife around the edge to make sure the edges are loosened.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours until chilled. 
Remove the outside of the springform pan once it is finished chilling.
Leave cheesecake on pan bottom to serve. (I did the mistake of trying to move the bottom plate and almost had a heart attack when the cheesecake got a nasty crack on the top Maybe that too will come with experience)
Now, ofcourse the cheesecake is delicious enough to eat on its own but I suggest top with fresh raspberries or any of your favorite fruit, sprinkled with a little icing sugar on top to take it to the next level. 

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